Thursday, April 28, 2011

Featured Passage, Mrs. Bridge

This may not be Connell's most powerful passage, but I couldn't resist.  From Chapter 61 "Parking":

 "The elegant Lincoln her husband had given her for her birthday was altogether too long, and she drove it as prudently as she might have driven a locomotive.  People were always sounding their horns at her, or turning their heads to stare when she coasted by.  Because the Lincoln had been set to idle too slowly, the engine frequently died when she pulled up at an intersection, but as her husband never used the Lincoln and she herself assumed it was just one of those things about automobiles, the idling speed was never adjusted.  Often she would delay a line of cars while she pressed the starter button either too long or not long enough.  Knowing she was not expert she was always quite apologetic when something unfortunate happened, and did her best to keep out of everyone's way.  She shifted into second gear at the beginning of every hill and let herself down the far side much more slowly than necessary.
The Lincoln's cushions were so soft and Mrs. Bridge so short that she was obliged to sit erect in order to see whatever was going on ahead of her.  She drove with arms thrust forward and gloved hands firmly on the wheel, her feet just able to depress the pedals.  She never had serious accidents, but was often seen here and there being talked to by patrolmen.  These patrolmen never did anything, partly because they saw immediately that it would not do to arrest her, and partly because they could tell she was trying to do everything the way it should be done."


  1. The passage certainly endears us to Mrs. Bridge, and perhaps should make us more patient toward elderly drivers. Actually, I realize I don't really know whether Mrs. Bridge is elderly, or just inexperienced at driving.

  2. Yes, that "endearment" is precisely the pathetic empathy I talked about and the reason I can't dislike the book. As you'll see when you read, she is not elderly in this particular passage, although she does age in the book.